Episode 2: John Francis Wille, convicted child murderer


Nichole Lopatta, Source: NOLA.com

Episode 2 of Crime Historian: the Podcast features John Francis Wille, born in 1964, who allegedly began committing murders when he was as young as sixteen years old. His most notorious crime, and the one was he was convicted of, was the kidnap, rape, and murder of 8-year-old Nichole Lopatta in June of 1985. Wille was 21 at the time.

He was partly convicted for this grizzly crime due to his own confession which explicitly described every act he and one his acquaintances, Billy Phillips, subjected Nichole to. His conviction also rested heavily on the confession of his girlfriend, Judith Walters, and her daughter, Sheila Walters. In total, at the time of the murder, four people other than Nichole were along for the car ride that began in Milton, Florida and ultimately stopped in LaPlace, Louisiana where Nichole’s body was dumped in the woods.

Reports differ on Sheila’s age at the time, but it is agreed that she was thirteen or fourteen years old when the crime occurred.  This is significant because, according to the confessions, Sheila actually helped the men kidnap Nichole, though it is not proven that she actually knew what she was doing. She reportedly also consoled Nichole as she cried on the car ride that eventually ended in her death. Listen to episode 2 for the entire story. And please, heed the disclaimer at the beginning.


  • There was no possible way for me to cover everything in this case. Check out the sources below for further details.
  • At one point, I mistakenly refer to John Francis Wille as Willie. That’s because his name is spelled two different ways across the Internet. My bad!

Special thanks to these sources:

  1. http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/05/nichole_lopattas_convicted_kil_2.html
  2. http://www.leagle.com/decision/1987771514So2d257_1629/STATE%20v.%20WALTERS
  3. http://law.justia.com/cases/louisiana/supreme-court/1990/87-ka-1309-1-1.html
  4. http://www.leagle.com/decision/19901880559So2d1321_11643/STATE%20v.%20WILLE
  5. The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook by Gisli H. Gudjonsson

5 thoughts on “Episode 2: John Francis Wille, convicted child murderer

  1. I know for a fact billy Phillips wasn’t killed by wille. I know who killed him. 100% from the person who did it, or who participated in it.


    • Thanks for your comment, Mike. I know there is much controversy surrounding this whole case, and I try not to be biased as I report the information I have gathered. I believe even Atticus Finch said that not only should a conviction so serious rest beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond the shadow of a doubt. For many, there is at least a shadow of a doubt (or a few) with this caSe.

      If you know anything about who committed any of these crimes, I highly recommend going to the authorities. That way your conscience can be clear. They may do nothing about it or they may actually entertain the thought, but it’s best to rest with a clean conscience about having done the right thing.

      No matter the outcome, I hope your family finds peace. Thank you for commenting.


  2. By the way, billy is my Moms brother,& I was the last known person to have seen him,even though I was only 5 yrs old at the time, he didn’t have any kids,& I spent most of my time with him, it’s hard for me to come forward because it would destroy my family, but I hate knowing that people think that my uncle could’ve had anything to do with hurting that little girl.


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